Wilfred (FX, Thursdays, 10/9C) returns this Thursday with an encore of the first season finale and cable premiere of the episode Progress (which was released earlier online and via VOD). Series star Elijah Wood spoke about the show’s second season with a group of journalists/bloggers on Monday.
As always, he was charming, articulate and thorough.
Elijah Wood: Good morning, everyone.
Hi, Elijah. Thanks for taking time to talk to us today.
Wood: Yes, you’re welcome.
Wilfred is manipulative and like the anti-Jiminy Cricket. Why do you think that Ryan continues to stay with him despite all the schemes and all the lies?
Wood: The scheming and the lying, that’s a good question. I think that as much as Wilfred cannot entirely be trusted I also think that almost entirely those sorts of schemes and those lies end up in Ryan learning something and Ryan continuing to grow and advance as a person despite the method for getting him there. I think deep down Ryan has a sense that Wilfred does have his best interest at heart, even though his methods aren’t exactly to be trusted. I think he’s aware of the fact that he’s on a path of self-discovery and a journey to bettering himself , and it’s his friend, it’s the person that knows him the best, it’s the person that understands him the best, again, despite the difficulties present in their relationship sometimes. It’s the person that he can actually rely on and that can truly understand what makes Ryan who he is.
Yes. Some of the funniest moments on the show have been the improved in-character banter between you and Jason [Gann] at the end of each episode. Will we be seeing more of that this season, and can you talk a little bit about the improvisation?
Wood: Well, actually none of those moments are improvised. The scripts are very finely tuned. We don’t actually have a lot of time for improvisation. We’re doing four day episodes, we’re running somewhere between six and nine pages a day of dialogue, so we’re moving relatively quickly. The pace is fast, so it’s difficult to get time for that kind of thing. And those beats, those couch moments of them sitting together and hanging out and smoking weed at the end of the episodes are also kind of finely tuned little character moments. But, yes, you will be seeing more of them now that we’ve established that the basement does in fact still exist, which we can now reveal since people have seen the episode. Yes, we will see them hanging out in that space more for sure.
In the season finale we saw a different side of Ryan, a side that even made Wilfred cringe, so what was it like to unleash Ryan’s dark side, and will we be seeing him again this season?
Wood: It was a lot of fun. It provided a color to the character that was very different from the character we were introduced to and that we’ve only kind of ever alluded to that side of him in the first season until we saw it at the end, so it was great fun to play. It provided another layer and sort of insight into the darkness that lies within him that ultimately led him to the place that we found him in at the beginning of the first season. We won’t necessarily see that darkness again. He allowed himself to get to the precipice a little bit, and in doing that he almost lost everything that was holding him together, Wilfred included, and so we see him now having come out of that space, and I don’t think it’s likely that he’ll return there any time soon. But we now are aware of the fact that that exists, and to a certain degree I guess more importantly that is ultimately what led to his initial downfall, it was that sort of selfish activity and doing things that he knew was wrong despite the fact that he knew them that put him in the place that made Wilfred come into his life in the first place, I think.
Can you talk about working with … and … because it was hilarious.
Wood: What was that?
Can you talk about working with Don Swayze and filming that scene, because it was hilarious.
Wood: It was great. It was great. One of the elements of the show that’s so wonderful is that we do get to include these wonderful characters and then doing that get some wonderful guest stars that come and join us and color our world. He was fantastic. His character is very funny and he was super game to play a relatively nefarious character, and it provided quite a lot of laughs for us and I think he had a really fun time doing it. He was great.
I’m looking forward to Season 2, but I have a question for you. I’ve got a two part question. Did the filming of The Hobbit get in the way of Wilfred, or was it timed well where you didn’t have to worry about jumping from one place to the next?
Wood: Oh, it was all done prior to the second season –
Oh, it was. Good, good.
Wood: Yes, they’ve been filming The Hobbit for about a year and I jumped on to it in July, a little bit in July last year and a little bit in October, so it was all done prior to starting on the second season.
Well, now you’re creating an iconic figure in Wilfred, you did it with Frodo, and you’re doing it with Wilfred. What’s it like, the differences for you, television versus film?
Wood: The pace is more intense, we move at a much faster rate than films typically do. Like I said earlier, we’re doing about four day episodes, so it’s quite a lot of material in a short amount of time, so the pace is fast, I’m having to keep up. I have just about enough time to get home every night, go over the next day’s work, get some sleep, and go at it again. So that’s a marked difference. And I think the thing that was interesting for me, this is all relatively new being on a television show and being within a comedy, and what was so interesting last year is when it first aired the realization of the fact that it was in people’s living rooms every week, it was such an interesting experience. I never experienced that. I’m used to making something over ‘x’ amount of time, releasing it on to the world in cinemas, and then it goes away. But we were in people’s living rooms for the course of the summer, which was so interesting, it was the thing that was kind of happening every week and that people were constantly reacting to, and it was an enjoyable experience and I’m looking forward to people seeing it again and reacting to more of what we’ve done.
You mentioned some of your co-stars a couple of questions back, can you tell us a little bit about working with Robin Williams?
Wood: Oh, it was a joy, it was such a treat for all of us. We’re all massive fans of his. And I’ve had the pleasure of working with Robin a number of times in the two Happy Feet films doing voice work, and he’s just a delightful human being, so incredibly humble and so hilarious, and obviously an icon, and to get a chance to bring him in to our world on Wilfred was a total joy. And it was funny, we were sitting across from each other doing a scene and we realized that, and he said it, that this is the first time that we actually got to play a scene together in the flesh, like in front of each other and on film, and he was saying how enjoyable that was, which was wonderful. It was great to actually have a tangible space to work in as actors. It was great. I think he had a wonderful time. He worked with us for a few days and I think he loved our crew, and he regaled people with stories and he spent almost all of his time hanging out on set. It was wonderful. It elevated our episode as well. It was a real treat for us.
Yes, absolutely. We particularly loved the episodes last season with Mary Steenburgen. Will we be seeing her again this year?
Wood: You will be seeing Mary again. And we particularly love working with her, she’s amazing. The one shame about doing these small episodes is that we only get our guests in for a short amount of time. Sometimes a character will feature literally for an episode only and so we only get them for a couple of days, or three days. And that was the case obviously last year with Mary because she was only in that one episode, but it felt like working with her, she left and we missed her. It felt like she was with us the entire time. She just has this beautiful presence to her and such warmth and kindness and … incredible in the role. She has the right amount of madness and sweetness in the character and I think she gave great insight as to where Ryan comes from. We were so excited to see her again and to work with her again this season. She’s wonderful.
Is Ryan a difficult character for you to get into, or can you relate to him easily?
Wood: Is Ryan (audio cutting in and out) to get into?
Wood: I (audio cuts out) much that I can relate to. Ryan is constantly at odds with himself and the world around him, and I don’t necessarily relate to that. I think (audio cuts in and out) hugely informed by Jason. A lot of the time Ryan is reacting to the world around him and reacting to the scenarios that Wilfred’s putting him in and trying to hold things together and to hold on to his own sense of …, and … , and what helps me as an actor is working with Jason. He provides me with a wealth of things to react to and different versions of his character that makes my job so much easier and helps to establish the character as well.
The next season, I think what’s interesting about it is that you’ll find, the first season obviously we came to know these characters, we came to know Ryan as he came to know Wilfred and accepted Wilfred into his life, and I think was a little bit more easily fooled because it was all new to him, and I think what you’ll find this season is Ryan is less quick to be fooled by, he’s wised up a little bit to Wilfred. Wilfred can still pull the wool over his eyes a little bit, but he has a little bit more sense of control and autonomy this season than he did in the first.
Speaking of Jason, how hard is it for you to keep a straight face with him in that costume when he’s doing things like humping Bear?
Wood: Oh man, yes, I must say it’s really funny. I was actually talking about this on set the other day, but the first season I rarely broke. It was actually funny, we were about a day or two before we were finished on the first season and Wilfred had this line, it was a nebulous line, it didn’t seem particularly funny or outlandish but he just said something that, I think Wilfred’s line was ‘I wasn’t finished yet, Ryan,’ or something, I had interrupted him, but I clearly hadn’t, and it was that line, I didn’t break all season for some reason, even though everything we were doing was hilarious and Jason was constantly funny, but I never broke until that line. It was the weirdest thing to break in.
And this season has been the total opposite. I laughed so much this season and broke in so much more. I don’t really know why that is. I don’t know if it’s because the material is funnier this season or if, I don’t know, if I’m more comfortable with what we’re doing and what we’re creating that I’m laughing more, but Jason has made me laugh a lot this season. It’s been hilarious. And I can’t quite put my finger on it. I literally was talking about this the other day, it’s like what the … is it about this season, why am I suddenly laughing at everything. And we’ve had a couple of moments, like doing some of those couch … at the end, where there was one thing, he changed a line of dialogue in one of the couch … and you’ll see it in the season, he changed one word and that one word change made the line so ridiculously funny that I broke and then every time we tried to do it again I knew it was coming, so we literally had to walk off set and clear the air, because he was laughing as well. It was great. It’s been a really fun season. It’s sort of ridiculous how much fun it is to come to work. It’s just one of those jobs where every day I look forward to seeing everyone, every day I look forward to the material that we get a chance to make come to life. It’s really a blessing. It’s awesome.
Personally, what do you feel it is about Wilfred that resonates well with viewers? It’s done so well.
Wood: I don’t know. The thing I love about the show, and I don’t know if this is why people respond to it so much, but what I love most about the show is that it can be enjoyed on multiple levels. And I think that it’s a very multi-layered show, and I think that it really became even more multi-layered toward the latter part of the first season. And I love that about it. I love that there are some episodes that aren’t as reliant on comedy, that are actually about characters and internally what’s going on and there’s this underlying theme of the cerebral to the show that I love, and yet it can also be enjoyed on this level of just being hilarious, that a guy is talking to another guy in a dog suit. And I think it’s those things that I love most about it. I suppose that’s why people respond to it. I think it’s definitely unique. I don’t think that there’s anything quite like it on television.
I think those are some of the elements that I was most intrigued about and why I was excited to be a part of it. It doesn’t feel like a typical sitcom or comedy, it feels like we have the opportunity to take some interesting risks and to delve into stories that aren’t altogether common in the comedy space, which feels really exciting, and we have the freedom to do that on the network that we’re on. So maybe that’s why it feels to me like a breath of fresh air, not to be presumptuous, but I’m assuming that that’s probably why people like it. But at the end of the day it’s also a guy and another guy in a dog suit sitting around smoking pot, so that’s intrinsically funny as well.
Absolutely. Your body of work as an actor has always been so diverse, from indie films, blockbuster films, to TV like Wilfred. How important is it for you to keep that diversity in your resume as an actor?
Wood: It’s important. I think it’s always been important to me. I think there’s probably a few reasons why I think, first and foremost, it’s just about my own interest in the art form, and I’m interested in all kinds of genres and all kinds of storytelling mediums, so I’m interested in new challenges and new experiences and different kinds of storytelling. But also as an actor that kind of diversity provides a constant challenge for me, this being a very good example, I’ve never done comedy, I’ve never done television before, so it was a brand new experience, and I think I’m always looking for new experiences. But I also love actors who have a diverse catalogue and have a diverse career, you can’t really peg them. I never would want to be in that position where it’s anticipated the kinds of things that I will be part of or that I’ll do. Constantly doing different things frees me up as an actor to continue to do different things and do things that people wouldn’t necessarily expect.
S. Seomin (FX): I should warn you, Elijah, **** is obsessed with Bear.
Wood: We’re kind of obsessed with Bear as well.
I am obsessed with Bear, but I actually did not have a question about Bear at this time.
Wood: Oh, okay.
I was wondering – can you hear me?
Wood: Yes, I can. Can you hear me?
Yes, okay. They wrote you guys into a corner at the end of Season 1, or a closet, I guess. How pleased were you with the way that they wrote you out of it?
Wood: I love what they came up with. It was definitely a challenge, I think, in writing that. It was an exciting end to our first season and something that David [Zuckerman] had told us about, about a month or so before it was written, so we knew where it was going. But to leave people on a bit of a cliffhanger in such an extreme way was really exciting, and then trying to figure out how best to come out of that was an interesting challenge, I think, for David. But I love the way that he ultimately did. We have an interesting finale this season as well that I’m very excited about, and I think what I’m proud of with the show, and I spoke to this a little bit earlier, is where it goes in that first season, and I think we have a similar trajectory this season. We became very multi-layered toward the end of that first season, which allowed us to make that kind of finale work, and I think we do a similar thing this season as well, where from episode 7 on things get a little bit more complex in the storytelling, and those are some of my favorite episodes.
The first season… Wilfred helped Ryan to stand up for himself a little more, and I was wondering, how does Ryan’s newfound ballsiness change the dynamic in Season 2?
Wood: There’s a little bit more of a push and pull now. As I was saying earlier, I think Ryan’s a little bit more aware of the ability for Wilfred to trick him, so I think he’s constantly trying to look ahead to any of the things that Wilfred’s suggesting as possibly being a trick or a manipulation. So there is a bit more of a fight between them, a struggle between the two of them this time around. The dynamic is that Ryan’s a little bit less passive. I think he’s a lot more active in trying to almost stay ahead of Wilfred. He’s not always successful, but he has his eye out. He’s keen on where Wilfred can potentially be taking him this time around.
I just wanted to know what was the favorite role you’ve done and your most challenging role, and why for each one, please.
Wood: Wow. I think one of my favorite experiences in my life was obviously doing the Lord of the Rings because there’s nothing really that compared to that. It was such a unique opportunity and a unique experience, and there will never be an experience quite like it in my life. So that was extremely special to me, for a variety of reasons. I was 18 at the time, I was 22 when it was all over, and it was a huge growing period of my life, and living in New Zealand was an extraordinary experience. And playing the role was a unique challenge.
I think a turning point in my life as an actor was probably The Ice Storm. I was 15 when I did the film, 15 or 16, and I had never had that kind of challenge as an actor before with that sort of material. All of the actors that worked on the film were given packets of information on the 1970s as research, and we each had a questionnaire for our characters to fill out. It was really immersive and a different approach to the craft than I’d ever had before and it felt like a massive growing experience. I always cite that.
And another favorite experience of mine was working on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I think the character was interesting and dark and a bit skeevy, but the joy of that film was just simply being a part of a piece of art that I was in love with. In some ways I remember getting the script and thinking I would just as almost happily be doing catering on the film. I just wanted to work with Michel Gondry and with Kaufman. I was such a huge fan. That was a particularly special experience for me.
Also, can you talk about what it’s like making the transition from being a child actor to an adult actor?
Wood: To be honest, it’s not even something that I was that aware of until I was already into my adulthood. There’s no real equation there. There isn’t a way for me to answer that that can be quantified in specifics. Thinking about it, I was very lucky at a young age to never work on anything that made me a recognizable name really quickly, really early on. I think that had a lot to do with it. I had the gradual growth in terms of people being familiar with who I am. I never really worked on films that were specifically made for families and kids, and I think that helped as well, so I was never typecast as a young person. I think I was only interested, and I became increasingly as I grew into an adult, in being a part of different kinds of films and playing different kinds of roles, and I think that really helped. And also on a personal level humility was drilled into me from a young age from my family, I had a really strong family dynamic at home and a major sense of normalcy, so as a person I was always very grounded and had a relatively realistic perspective as to what I was doing in the world around me, so that helped.
But I don’t know that there’s any way to really say. I’ve also just been simply lucky. I’ve had great opportunities to work with wonderful filmmakers and to work on a relatively diverse group of films, and I always thought as I became an adult, well, as long as I can continue to work and to work on different things I’ll hopefully still have the opportunity to continue.
I’m 31 now, which I can’t really believe, and I’m still working. I was actually just in Baton Rouge and I did two days on a film called Pawn Shop Chronicles that’s going to be … amazing, I think, the film. It’s a big ensemble piece. I was working with Matt Dillon for two days, which was a joy, and Wayne Kramer, who directed The Cooler and Running Scared directed it, and I just had these two days, it was an absolute joy and we did some ridiculous things that I think are going to be really exciting. It just reminded me what a gift it is that I get to do what I do. I’m very lucky to still be working and I never take that for granted. Transition, I suppose I have made that transition, but I don’t really think about it. I just think about the here and now and what I’m doing and hopefully what I’ll get to be doing in the future.
What are some of the things you’ve learned about your co-stars over the course of this season that you didn’t know when you started the show?
Wood: What were some of the things – what about my co-stars?
That you’ve learned about them.
Wood: That’s an interesting question. I don’t know, I felt like I got to know them pretty well in the first season. I don’t know if I’ve learned anything new about them. Fiona [Gubelmann] is the nicest person I’ve ever met. She is the sunniest, most positive individual ever. She kind of brightens our set every time she’s on it. …Dorian [Brown]… That dynamic of the brother and sister relationship gets explored even more in the second season and I adore her and I love working with her. I’m so glad that I’ve gotten to know her over the seasons. I got to know Jason very well in the first season and I don’t think I learned anything about Jason that’s anything new, but the guy positively blows my mind with what he comes up with, with his character. I think on the surface one would assume that Wilfred is a hilarious, relatively dark, manipulative character, but it’s amazing the amount of color that he brings to it constantly. There’s actually a lot of freedom in the writing that allows Jason to actually add all of these multiple layers to where he’s almost multiple characters in one, and that’s always constantly surprising and funny to me. Again, personally I don’t know if I’ve learned anything more about them. I think I’ve just gotten closer to them. We’re like a family. I think that first season cemented that, or started that, and this season has cemented it.
Charlie Sheen’s also got a show coming out.
Wood: Yes, yes.
It’s coming out on the same night as yours. What’s your take on a new Thursday lineup for FX?
Wood: I haven’t seen his show, nor have I seen Russell Brand’s show, so I don’t have a take per se. I’m excited to see both of them. As a result of their being included, we have this comedy lineup of four shows now. I’m a huge, huge fan of Louis’ [C.K.] show. I think Louie’s show is perhaps the best comedy on television. I’m very excited to see his third season. But it’s exciting to be a part of a block of comedy. FX makes very interesting and unique choices, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all fits together. I’m curious to see it. Again, I can’t really say any more than that seeing as I haven’t seen the show.
At the end of the preview episode there’s a great moment where Ryan’s told to keep digging and then the next couple of episodes though it’s a little bit more of the general humorous antics with Wilfred and a little less of that introspection. Can you talk a little bit about how and when Ryan will start to dig again?
Wood: Yes, a very fine observation on your part. Yes, it’s true. The first few episodes back we find ourselves in a familiar Wilfred … in terms of the comedy and the construct of the show. But as the season progresses some of those existential questions and complications start to arise again, and we’ll see more of that, of the digging, I suppose, and of his self-discovery and growth, or lack of growth, as the season progresses. Like I said earlier, I think from episode 7 on it starts to become a little bit more like that, which represents, again, an element of the show that I think I’m most in love with. I love the first episode. I love this preview episode. It is totally emblematic of when I think the show is at its best. I love the comedy too, and I love those episodes, and we’ve got some very, very funny, ridiculous episodes this season, but we will definitely be getting back to more of what you’ve seen in this first preview episode as well.
What can you say about Allison’s [Mack] character and how she may challenge Ryan, because it seems like obviously she’ll get his mind off of Jenna a little bit, but it also seems like she’s more aware of Wilfred than everybody else.
Wood: Interesting. Yes, that whole arc is a very interesting one for Ryan. There’s not much I can really speak to beyond the fact that initially what she represents for Ryan is a sense of normalcy, a connection with someone outside of the immediate world around him, and a way for him to really connect with someone that isn’t Wilfred, that isn’t Jenna, that does not represent the immediate world around them, and it represents a major step forward for him. But also being in the work space, it gets him out of being in this house smoking pot with the dog and allows him to grow and to connect with people, and I think it’s a very interesting arc that we’ll see over the course of the season. It gets far more interesting than what I’ve just described as well.
I want to say that, about the air and the laughter, it must be something a little green that you guys are smelling to make your laughter this season, so I want to say on behalf of –
Wood: Perhaps that’s what it is.
I have to say what aspects of your own personality, or your own idiosyncrasies, did you bring this season to Ryan?
Wood: I don’t know. That’s a good question. … maybe some of me in there, maybe some of my more awkward quirkinesses that lie in there somewhere gets applied to the character in some of the funnier moments. I also don’t know that there is that much of me in there. Ryan inherently is somebody who’s trying to do good and is trying to be the best person that he can be, and those are things I can relate to, so I suppose that part of me. There’s a lot of heart to Ryan and I think that it’s an element of him that I relate to.
Okay, so what elements of Ryan have you taken for your own newly adopted traits perhaps?
Wood: Hopefully nothing. Ryan’s really struggling most of the time and is constantly questioning himself and the world around him and is not always in the most comfortable of places, so hopefully none of that has rubbed off on me.
Is there something specific that you’d like to see happen in the future on the show that hasn’t yet, if you could write it the way you want it?
Wood: There’s a lot of ideas that get thrown around. I would love to see Ryan as Wilfred at some point, in some kind of strange existential dream. I’ve always thought that that visually would be really weird.
Wood: What else? I don’t know if there’s anything else. I have an idea of where I want it to go. I have an idea of how I’d like the show to end, which I’d probably rather not say in case it lets the cat out of the bag in regards to something that we might actually do.
Yes, that’s … .
Wood: But yes, there are a lot of things that I think we can explore. My favorite elements sometimes of the show are when the show gets really trippy and you don’t quite know what’s real and what isn’t. There are some episodes like that this season and I’d like to see some more of that. I think there’s a lot we can explore with that, exploring symbolism and fever dreams, which I think give insight into what is psychologically happening with the character. I’d like to see more of that, where we can put our audience in a place of not quite knowing where they are and what’s really going on, so I’d like to see more of that.
Also, I just wanted to ask quick, was it easy, hard to get back into the role of Frodo? What was that like coming back?
Wood: It was a joy. I actually watched The Fellowship of the Ring prior to working on The Hobbit again. I thought it would be a good idea to do a refresh, but it was actually easy, and I think what surprised me most about it, I expected it to be very strange and trippy in a way, and what was almost more surprising is how normal it felt. I remember I was on set in Bag End and I was looking around and I was in the feet and wig and ears and in my costume and I was looking around and it felt like no time had passed and we were just still working on Lord of the Rings. And I think in some ways that tripped me out more than anything, at just how, like, oh yes, here we are again, this is what we’ve been doing all this time.
Can you go a little further into the addition of the biotech company and the mystery of it. It seemed like in Season 1 there was this dance between what was reality and what was in Ryan’s head. Does the biotech company … that in this season, being sort of an escape from Wilfred?
Wood: Hang on one second. There’s this big truck that’s very loud in front of me and I can’t really hear your question. But I have a feeling that the truck’s going to be moving soon. Hang on one second.
Wood: Okay, go ahead and ask your question again, sorry.
Okay. In Season 1 there’s a dance between what was reality and what was hallucinations. With the addition of a biotech company, is that going to play a similar role for Ryan, being an escape from Wilfred, at least an opportunity to escape from Wilfred, as well as making new connections?
Wood: It certainly is. It’s the first time that we see Ryan in the workplace interacting with other people, having responsibility, accepting being a lawyer again, getting out of his house, really, literally and getting ahead of … and interact with other people and grow, and not so much to stay away from Wilfred, but to grow as a human being to psychologically be healthy enough to be in a workplace with other people. It was the most logical place for us to go, I think.
With the second season … Chris Klein becoming more of a regular presence and also a common villain now, before Wilfred referred to him as this jerk, but now we see his effect upon Wilfred. Can you talk more about Chris’ role in Season 2?
Wood: Yes. Chris’ character represents what Ryan doesn’t have. There’s this infatuation with Jenna, his neighbor, and there is a battle in his head about Chris’ character, Drew, and what he gets and what he doesn’t get, which I think has more to do with Ryan (audio cuts out) …conflicts, and Chris is brilliant at playing that character. I think … a lot more this season.
One of the things I like about Wilfred is that while Wilfred may be the catalyst, Ryan really works out his issues through his interactions with other people. This season, for example, he’s working through issues with his father with his relationship with his new boss, and he’s trying to get over Jenna by going out with this hot co-worker. I’m wondering if you could talk a bit about these challenges in his life and also what’s it like working with the incredible Steven Weber and Allison Mack.
Wood: They’re both wonderful. Steven does an incredible job playing my boss. He’s very funny and has some really funny moments. And Allison is fantastic as well. She’s a beautiful human being. She’s a very soulful individual and a very wise individual and I think imbues the character with that. As much as she’s also a hot co-worker, there’s real depth to Allison as a person that she brings to the role.
I don’t know that these are, they’re not really minor distractions, but they are ways for him to work these things out. I think with Allison’s character it’s much more realistic for him, the Jenna infatuation is an infatuation and I think Allison’s character represents the possibility of a real connection with someone who’s available and I think she might understand him and get him in a way that Jenna may not.
I don’t know that he’s necessarily working out father issues with his boss. I suppose there’s a similar dynamic, but his father, which we’ve only ever heard of and at least spoken about, obviously has a major role to play in Ryan’s difficult psychology and the head space that he’s in, and also … that he’s not proud of that led him to the place that he’s in, and the shadow of his father is felt a lot in this season as well. So it’s something that we’re constantly exploring.
My question is, you mentioned Allison Mack a while ago and some other stars that are coming on in the second season, was that a conscious effort to try to get more big stars on your show for the second season?
Wood: I don’t think we’re ever looking for just simply big stars on the show. I think we have a distinct disinterest in … . I think we’re always looking for people that feel right for the characters, and we’re certainly interested in actors who are familiar to people, and we’re excited to get a chance to work with people that we’re fans of, but at the end of the day I think our casting decisions really come from a place of wanting to fill out these characters with the best possible people that can make them come to life in the way that they’ve been written, and this season is no exception to that. Rob Riggle was absolutely wonderful. He plays a co-worker. We have a few returning characters from last season. I don’t know if that’s been announced, I can’t really say, but there’s a really wonderful guest performance from an actor, who I’ve actually worked with before, who you’ll see later on this season, and that’s really exciting.
It’s really a fun show to cast, because the characters that do come in to interact with Ryan and Wilfred are extremely well written and really funny, and some of them are quite bizarre, so they’re always really fun to cast, and it’s a joy for us to bring in people that we love, that we’re a fan of, and more often than not these wonderful actors tend to elevate the work that we’re doing, which is great.
Great. My second question, I was curious to know how many dog suits for Wilfred there are.
Wood: There are a few. I think there are two or three, but they made a couple of extra this season. And I don’t know if anybody saw the promos, but there was a promo with Wilfred as an (audio cuts in and out.) He has one suit that’s pretty …, and is trying to look his best in the scenario in a freshly groomed suit, which tends to actually be a lot hotter for Jason because there’s far more fur, it’s very well coiffed.
I was going to ask the question, you were saying how much you were enjoying doing the season, so do you see this going into Season 4, 5, 6, if everybody still loves it as much as they do now? Would you like to do it long term?
Wood: I would like to do the show as long as I feel like there are stories to tell. What I would hate to happen is for us to tread over similar ground and tell stories that are rehashing things we’ve already explored. I think as long as there’s a story to tell and the characters are progressing as a reason to tell these stories, then I would love to carry on. But I would hate for it to feel like we’re milking something.
Wood: Yes, yes. Integrity is extremely important to me and I want its integrity to remain intact and I would hate to just do a bunch of episodes over and over again just to do them. So I don’t know how long the shelf life is. The construct is very unique. It’s about a guy who’s in recovery psychologically and –
But you’re on a great network too. FX is a great network to be on.
Wood: It’s fantastic. No, it’s fantastic. They are huge supporters of our show and as a result we do get a lot of creative freedom to make the kind of show that we want to make. I think as long as we get to make the show that we want to make and we feel like there’s enough for us to continue to explore, then I’m happy to keep doing the show, yes. I absolutely love it. But also I must say I’m a huge fan of shows that also know what their shelf life is. I look to shows like Extras or The Office, or any number of British television shows that only lasted two seasons because they told a story over the course of those two seasons and it was enough. So we’re clearly going to hopefully go beyond two seasons, but I don’t see this running seven, eight, or nine seasons either.
Since Bear was mentioned before, not to sound like a fetishist or anything, but I noticed that sometimes Wilfred calls Bear ‘he’ and sometimes Wilfred calls Bear ‘she,’ and I was wondering if that’s going to remain a mystery?
Wood: Bear’s gender will never be defined, I’ll say that. We’ve actually, I think, taken to calling Bear ‘it,” I’m pretty sure I’m correct in saying that, so Bear doesn’t actually have a gender. It’s a totally ambiguous gender. It’s funny, I suppose he probably has called him ‘he” I need to check back on the first season. I can’t really remember. But Bear is an undefined gender. Bear features a lot this season. Bear really comes into its own. I love that character. And I think what’s so interesting about the relationship between Wilfred and Bear is Bear is to Wilfred as Wilfred is to Ryan in a way, and it’s clearly something that’s internally happening with Wilfred and we definitely explore that a little bit more this season. It’s very funny.
Great. The last thing, are you going to play kickball again at … this year?
Wood: Oh man, I wish I could. I’m not going to be in town. I’m going to be away in Spain shooting a film, so unfortunately I’m not going to be able to make it. But I’d love to. I had a blast last season. It was fun.
Photos by Ray Mickshaw, Frank Ockenfels/Courtesy FX